Cigar Reviews

Gran Habano G.A.R. Opium S.T.K.

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Who finished their Christmas shopping? I did! At least, I hope I did. After an exhausting weekend of shopping I decided to settle down with a nice Gran Habano G.A.R. Opium S.T.K.

G.A.R. Opium

For those who don’t know, Gran Habano had recently formed a series called the S.T.K. series. The cigars in this special series are limited production, limited release cigars that were created for the sole consumption of George A. Rico and family. Needless to say these are extraordinary cigars and Rico felt the public deserved to try them out as well, thus creating the S.T.K. series. The S.T.K. series will initially only be available at 50 retailers across the U.S.  and limited to no more than 100. Luckily our friends over at Gran Habano Cigars (@ghcigars) where kind enough to send a few of them our way.

G.A.R. Opium

After numerous blends and prototypes, George A. Rico has finally came up with a cigar he deemed worthy of the Opium name. This cigar is composed of a Nicaraguan Habano Corojo hybrid wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and an unknown mix of fillers. These cigars come in just one size, 6×52, will run $9 a stick, and will only be available at S.T.K. authorized retailers.

Size: 6×52  –  Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano/Corojo  –  Binder: Nicaraguan  –  Filler: Unknown

G.A.R. Opium

Prelight: First and foremost, the band on this G.A.R. Opium is impossible to ignore. The cigar sports a crazy elegant, attention calling double gold, red, and white band along with a third black and gold foot band that simply states that this cigar is part of the S.T.K. series and is a “Limited Edition” “by George A. Rico”. The first band is a huge red and gold crest with the G.A.R. branding followed by a smaller secondary band with a similar design that has the blend’s name “Opium”. The wrapper on this cigar is a beautify dark and medium brown with tons of oils coating the entire body. There are only one or two short, wider veins running through the body of this cigar leading up to the perfectly round triple cap. The cigar in general is extremely firm with no soft spots. The wrapper feels really durable as it didn’t tear or break when I squeezed it. It did however leave a really neat coating of oils on my finger tips. The wrapper on this cigar gives off a very interesting sweet pine aroma while the foot produces nothing more than a bold tobacco scent. The cap cut clean and easy using my double bladed Palio cutter. The cold draw is interesting. Instead of getting the run of the mill tobacco flavor I was anticipating the G.A.R. Opium let loose this crazy spicy, sweet, cedar flavor with even a bit of pepper on just the cold draw alone.

G.A.R. Opium

First Smoke: Instead of this G.A.R. Opium greeting me with the pepper I was expecting due to the cold draw flavors, I was welcomed with a very sweet tobacco flavor with a bit of honey, cinnamon and some subtle cedar with a bit of pepper that only teased my lips and tongue. The draw on this cigar is dead on, filling my mouth with tons of thick smoke with every puff. The burnline is razor sharp and even for the most part with only some very small waves. The ash left behind is white and light grey and extremely tightly compacted. The ash held on for well over an inch before giving way.

G.A.R. Opium

Halfway There: The G.A.R. Opium is really starting to open up now. Along with the sweet tobacco, cedar, and honey I am not picking up some interesting floral and citrus notes. I had to double check my hands to make sure they didn’t have soap on them. This cigar is very smooth and has some really interesting flavors. The retrohale is a nice addition to the experience to coating my nasal passage with a very bold, sweet cedar. I’m not really feeling any nicotine at this point, and the cigar is still burning dead even with amazingly white, compact ash.

G.A.R. Opium

Finish: Despite the larger bands on this G.A.R. Opium, all three of them slid right off the cigar without a hitch. That always gets huge brownie points with me. The Opium really smoothed out into the final third while the body ramped up a bit. Most of the flavors have dampened with the exception of the sweet tobacco and cedar which are rocking pretty hard at this point. There was no harshness at all, even into the final inch where I felt only a slight nicotine buzz before a smooth, creamy finish.

G.A.R. Opium

Overview: Gran Habano is a company that sometimes gets passed by cigar smokers. Just because they are affordable doesn’t mean they aren’t supburb cigars and the Opium is a perfect example of that. Perfect construction, great flavors, complex yet smooth. It really doesn’t get better than that. This is a perfect cigar for any occasion. Light enough to smoke in the morning, flavorful enough for an after meal smoke, and affordable enough for an everyday smoke. Need I say more?

G.A.R. Opium

Pairing: Coming in with another Lips of Faith series brew form New Belgium brewing, I paired this G.A.R. Opium with the new “Prickly Passion Saison”. I’ve said it so many times, but Saisons are my poison. I could drink these all day long. This isn’t your standard Saison though, it’s actually a 8.5% ABV beer brewed with natural Prickly Pear Cactus and Passion fruit juices. Usually the fruit would be the focal point of the brew, but in this case it’s nothing more than a slight aftertaste that really helps make this beer one of the smoothest I can say I have ever had. Sweet and citrusy up front with a nice smooth, creamy, fruity finish. This was a PERFECT pairing. I can’t stress that enough. Now that the Opium’s will be easily obtained, I recommend trying this pairing out if you can find the beer. Usually this time of the season I’d be pairing with some nice winter seasonal porters or stouts, but after trying this beer I knew it would go perfect with this cigar. You know what else goes great with this cigar and the beer? The Bouncing Souls. I got some “True Believers” playing as I enjoy the weekend before the chaos on my back porch.

G.A.R. Opium with some New Belgium Lips of Faith Prickly Passion Saison

Tony Casas is a 32 year old Creative Managing/Webdesigning/Craft Beer Drinking Cigar smoker from El Paso, Texas. When he isn't loving his wife he is either sleepy, hungry, or suffering from a headache.

14 Comments

  1. jjo

    December 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Nice review. Seems like your experience was different than @knightrid’s, as he had issues with consistency of construction. Sounds good though, so I may have to find one and try it for myself, since I like the white label G.A.R. and the Azteca. That’s an odd choice of a name, though, especially when the Feds are trying to crack down on smoking. :p

    That sounds like a good warm weather beer. I’ll have to keep it in mind.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    • Tony Casas

      December 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      I had a few of these and all the construction was dead on. Mike’s full of it.! haha kidding. Maybe I just got lucky? These were great man, I am a fan of the white GARS as well.

      • jjo

        December 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm

        I knew I shouldn’t trust him LOL! Nah, he’s a great guy, but of course, we don’t agree on everything.

      • Mike - KnightRid

        December 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm

        LOL – bastard. I had MAJOR problems with mine. Heck the 2nd one literally blew up within the first 2.5 inches 🙁

        I hate putting reviews up like that but I try to point out the good and bad.

        I will still love the Gran Reserva #3 Gran Robusto – went through boxes of them!

  2. czerbe

    December 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Great review guys. I haven’t had much face time withe Habano you can’t find them locally but I will have to hunt this out. Pictures look great

    • Dalamscius

      December 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Tony and I were actually talking about how we seem to overlook a lot of GH cigars too, but everytime we do smoke one we seem to really enjoy them. I’m definitely going to make a mental note to grab more next time I place an order! Hopefully you can track some down too, they make a tasty connecticut too!

      • Lou Bozzelli

        December 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        Hey Daniel, Joe from Bondele Cigars was just mentioning that on Friday at the last herf night we had. If we make to his Christmas party we can sample GH connecticut with all the other aficionados. Love the GH corojo!!!

        • Dalamscius

          December 21, 2011 at 7:55 am

          I was actually the one asking Joe if he had the GH Connie’s but he was out of stock 🙁
          Also, I came down with some crappy cold/sore throat so I may not make it out tonight, we’ll see how I feel.

  3. Lou Bozzelli

    December 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I agree 100% Tony. I’m a big fan of the Gran Habano corojo#5. Always great construction and consistent flavs box to box. I’m looking forward to trying this Opium!!

    What else can I say, another great review, eh!

    • Tony Casas

      December 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks lou!

  4. Jake

    December 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I loves me some Gran Habano’s. Matter-of-fact, I just got a bundle of Azteca Fuerte’s from the mail lady this afternoon. Great review, killer shots. Keep it up.

    • Tony Casas

      December 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      I just think people overlook Gran Habano far too often. They make some great sticks..

  5. Tadd

    December 22, 2011 at 6:30 am

    I don’t ever see these locally… Have read interviews with him, but have never even thought about finding these. Guess I need to make a small purchase and try a few.

    • Tony Casas

      December 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

      word on the street is, this may eventually become a fully produced line. Keep your eyes out.

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